The Social Dilemma, Netflix Film

This documentary is a must-watch film about how the tech industry has shifted from “tool-based” technology to “manipulation-based” technology, encouraging and utilizing addictive behaviours. They not only compile extensive data on people’s behaviours, but they mainly make money by encouraging an increase of your usage and trading in “human futures.” In short, they are able to manipulate all of us, the greater society. The online world takes over a person’s self-worth and identity.

A major problem today is that Gen Zs have significant social and emotional problems for engaging in social media heavily, as do other heavy online users.

Another big problem is that foreign countries work to polarize and destabilize our democracies by causing in-fighting. We, as a society, need to push back.

But what will it take? What will the cost be to our kids and our society before better laws are in place about the uses and abuses of social media?

A few actionable items: turn off all notifications. Don’t click on ads and rabbit holes on controversial topics online. Delete social media and email apps from your phone and set a time limit for yourself to be online. To avoid being polarized, read news from beyond your typical sources and follow/listen to opposing views.

This film is recommended.

*Keep in mind that Tristin Harris may be working for Facebook and advocating for a paid version where people can drive their own feed better. Watch This.

A free YouTube related talk is Here.


Dilimma or Delimna?

Looking & Seeing the Painting

La France apportant la foi aux Hurons de la Nouvelle-France, (c. 1670).

In the article called “Absolute Faith, or France Bringing Representation to the Subjects of New France” (1997), Josephy Monteyne assembles an interesting collage of the various ways of “looking” at what is believed to be Frère Luc’s painting, La France apportant la foi aux Hurons de la Nouvelle-France, (c. 1670).  He disputes art critics Harper and Lord for the way they “look” at the painting; the first for only seeing the painting as one created in “the grand manner of art of the dying phases of Renaissance religious painting”; and the second for only seeing objects of religious and imperial propaganda (Monteyne, 18). While both perspectives have merit, Monteyne provides extensive contextual analysis of the painting, shedding light on the painting as we look upon it today, alluding to our own cultural references to help us self-consciously see the painting, and also show us how the Indigenous looked upon it.

            Monteyne describes the scene of the submissive subject looking at the gifted painting with all of its connotations. He calls it an “allegorical image” and hints at this through his explanation of “representation of a gift of representation” (Monteyne, 12).   This immediately demands that I, as the looker of the painting today, must consider how this frame I am seeing has been particularly selected, giving Lord’s position on the painting as propaganda credibility. Given the powers the Indigenous placed on the visual images, they were overcome by the works and therefore subjugated. Myself looking, I recognize a similarity to the painting of the painting of a pipe—the image in the image. There is representation here, but the code is hidden from me at the moment, but soon to be revealed through the detailed history Monteyne provides.

            The dense history of France, Louis XIV, the Jesuits, and the Recollets, as well as Laval who was appointed Bishop of New France by the king and pope, provides context which gradually opens the looker’s eyes to use of religious and political icons in the painting, the overall metaphor of the woman as King of France wearing a necklace with an “L” for Louis on it, and all the force of the king’s centralized and growing power stretching out to the far reaches of his colonies by ship with flutter flags, subjugating the indigenous peoples on new lands and bringing them into France’s labour force. Suddenly, it’s all there, even showing me that the fleur de lis on the blanket covering the Native man is meant to comfort and him with the idea that he will be taken care of under France. While the simple look revealed the final punch line which we are all familiar with, having the context makes every detail a motif, every colour symbolic, every image representational. Rather than simply looking now, I am now seeing.

            Furthermore, I was struck by how the struggle of the various religious orders under the crown of France is parallel to the struggle of the Indigenous peoples. Monteyne shows how indigenous arts were appropriated for the use of the colonizers; and the actual painting of the painting was an appropriation of Rome’s religious art for the purpose of subjugating the Indigenous because to them, images held great spiritual power. They looked upon the paintings, both the painting in the painting, and the actual painting, through their own cultural lens—and they were undone. They also needed to learn how to see the paintings.

Works Cited

Monteyne, Joseph. “Absolute Faith, or France Bringing Representation to the Subjects of New France.” Oxford Art Journal, vol. 20, no. 1, 1997, pp. 12–22. JSTOR, Accessed 11 Aug. 2020.

All Together Now, film

This is a perfect family film for a rainy day as fall knocks on the door.
The main character, Amber Appleton (played by Auli’i Cravalho), struggles with homelessness alongside her abused, alcoholic mother (Justina Machado). This story has all the ingredients for a modern-day YA fairy-tale, with the added depth provided by song, poetry, and drama utilized at various times by the students as a means to rise above circumstances.
The director has chosen key scenes from the novel, authored by Matthew Quick, to compress time and move the plot rapidly keeping viewers engrossed; and he connects jumps in time with an off-beat,  occasionally fun, and otherwise melodramatic soundtrack. This is not a sugary Disney film; it could appeal to a more serious teen.
The musicality of the film is similar to “Pitch Perfect,” with less singing and more somber notes. The themes explored through dialogue, setting, and characterizations are: race, homelessness, poverty, abuse, child neglect, disability, death, and grief, offset by the light of hope, resiliency, dreams, and aspirations. Additionally, it was refreshing to see the depiction of affluent people of colour alongside those who struggle, as opposed to the film industry’s racial stereotypes of the past.
Recommended for children aged 10 and up; suitable for family viewing.
Director: Brett Haley
Writers: Marc Basch, Brett Haley, Matthew Quick (novel)
Actors: Auli’i Cravalho, Carol Burnett, Justina Machado, Judy Reyes, Fred Armisen
Rating PG
Running Time1h 32m
Genre: Drama
Official Trailer:

Impressions of “‘Almost True’: Peter Rindisbacher’s Early Images of Rupert’s Land, 1821-26” (by Laura Peers)

            Laura’s Peer’s article, “‘Almost True’: Peter Rindisbacher’s Early Images of Rupert’s Land, 1821-26” (2009), thoroughly interprets the socioeconomic context of the art Rindisbacher produced as well as the artist who was trained in Europe. By reading this article, I discover similarities between Rindisbacher’s visual culture and the current visual culture. Just as Rindisbacher is a product of his time and culture, so too are we all. He used his European training to construct images which were not “natural,” but instead utilized a vraisemblance to pique the desired responses of the viewers. The imperial expeditions financed by the centre, created an appetite for panoramic views which drew in the intended viewers. This act of spatialization by definition produced and reproduced expected and stereotypical images of “savages” in other lands, justifying the colonization by the homeland.

            Rindisbacher creating images using the artistic conventions of his artist training, with subject matter depicting the expected vistas and exotic subjects with material details affording them authenticity, as if he were a journalist-artist. These kinds of works are instructional of discourses of power structures and, not as obviously, about the economic conditions which brought them about. Additionally, the patriotic forces of multiculturalism in the present-day have conditioned us for festivals around the calendar: we expect shows of “otherness” on certain days of the year, performed by well-defined ethnic groups. We purchased souvenirs and display them as symbols of my own adventures, much like Rindisbacher’s culture of explorers and colonialists. These are artifacts of primitiveness, a material culture which populates visual representations. Peers explains:

Material culture functioned as affirmations of the reality of their experiences […] Many such men made collections of Aboriginal objects: moccasins, coats, leggings, sashes, garters […] often purchased as souvenirs on the point of departure from the Northwest, or the return to ‘civilization’, where their wearing would have signified that the wearer had ‘gone native’ – not merely eccentric, but corrupted by the primitive. (Peers, 58)

I wonder, does the intention of the display, being appreciation rather than subjugative, afford it redemption? It is a complex issue. Peers discovers the same thing when she shows how Rindisbacher learned to paint in such a way as to imbue his work with “Western knowledge and power structures which were deeply embedded in colonialism,” (Peers, 60). He was interested in producing works which he knew would sell, and he produced works on commission. Rather than create art as an expression of his own impressions, he stepped into the travel narrative handed to him through the imperialist practice of colonialism, creating panoramas and other works which functioned much like stock photos of today.

As Peers’ work attests, there is much to explore and uncover with the production of art, the producers of art, their intentions, as well as the cultures in which they exist. I believe we are all explorers of the world, searching for a point of entry; a place to either perpetuate found narratives of inherited visual culture as Rindisbacher did, or a place to create new narratives, without using stock images.



Works Cited

Peers, Laura. “‘Almost True’: Peter Rindisbacher’s Early Images of Rupert’s Land, 1821-26.” Art History vol. 32, no. 3, June 2009, pp. 516-544. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1111/j.1467-8365.2009.00683.x.

View Peter Rindisbacher’s Early Images of Rupert’s Land Here.

Winning Chance, by Katherine Koller

Katherine Koller has written a vivid and compelling collection of short stories set in various locations within Alberta. Each of the vignettes, like acts of a play, puts the off-beat characters centre-stage in their complex social struggles, from a mother with a baby who fails to thrive and retired lovers wanting to travel, to a differently abled young man dangerously learning to navigate his precarious life when the most important people in his life cease to be. All of these scenes present sense of place palpably, with rapid dialogue which lives in the boroughs of Edmonton and small town Alberta.

No matter the desperation of each main character’s plight, Koller scripts a second chance for them. The honest realism, which tempts the reader to look away from difficult topics, is offered-up with optimism–a striking combination, like a salty and sweet treat.

In these troubling times, it is a surprising and refreshing read.

Recommended for youth and adults.

A Canadian Read.






Read more about Katherine Koller and her work on her website by clicking here.

Watch her interview on YouTube by yours truly, funded by a generous grant from the Rozsa Foundation, powered by The Writers’ Guild of Alberta.

There are no current events.

Join Dorothy online for a LIVE reading of her picture book, published by Fitzhenry & Whiteside, on Tuesday July 21st, 7:00 pm (Mountain Time), with the Writers’ Guild of Alberta. Check back here for a link to the event: – click on “News & Events”

Gather children for this lively romp through the seasonal activities of children in Alberta.

Q & A to follow.


Two So Small

by Hazel Hutchins

About a decade ago, I participated in a children’s book workshop in Canmore with Canadian author Hazel Hutchins.

I purchased one of her books, Two So Small, which she’d used as one of the examples in the workshop. The book has the flavour of a Folk Tale with surprises sprinkled throughout as well as sweet ending.

Here is the description from an online bookstore:

A gentle story about a brave little boy and his goat who, after many wrong turns, meet a baby giant in need of their help. In order to fully capture the size of the giants, Two So Small features an extra-large fold-out picture at the story’s end.

It became one of those books which I read over and over again to my young child. And it is one of the books which will remain on my bookshelf to read with grandchildren.

A Canadian Author

Happy Reading!


Autumn Kids’ Book Tour

Dorothy would love to visit your school or organization to talk about creating a picture book! Suitable for all ages.

Contact Dorothy  through her publisher: Fitzhenry & Whiteside.

Autumn Kids’ Book Tour*

Come and say hello and have your copy of

 Summer North Coming  read & signed by the author!

Calgary postponed

Banff postponed

Lethbridge Saturday November 9th, Chapters, 1:00 pm

Fort McMurray Saturday November 23rd, Coles-Indigo, 12:00 pm

* cancelled if roads are closed due to a snow storm